Tobias Rieder hasn’t scored a goal in a meaningful National Hockey League game in over a year. With a newly-minted two-way contract with the Calgary Flames in hand, he’s hoping he can end that cold streak.
Speaking on Saturday morning at the Saddledome – after his contract had been agreed upon but before it had become official – Rieder reflected on his camp.
PTO Tobias Rieder on his (unannounced) contract from the #Flames and his preseason: "I’m really happy about it. I think I had a good camp. That’s what I was trying to get ready for all summer and I’m really happy it worked out."
— Kristen Anderson (@KdotAnderson) September 28, 2019
(The whole media availability was pretty surreal, in that the Rieder news was out there but not yet official. Milan Lucic mentioned it twice on Saturday – once during the intermission coverage and once following the game – but you got the sense he couldn’t hold in his excitement for his teammate’s good fortune.)
The last time Rieder scored in a regular season game was his second-last game with the Los Angeles Kings, back on April 5, 2018 in a 5-4 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild. Since then? 68 regular season twirls without a red light going off.
“I’m just trying to forget about last year. I learned a lot from it, but I just want to get back to my game and show what I can do and what I did early on in my career,” said Rieder. “It was a challenge mentally, obviously not scoring a goal. And I think you just get tougher as a person and you learn to handle the mental aspect of the game and just trying to get back to being the player you normally are.”
Rieder earned praised from the Flames coaching staff for his ability to use his speed off the rush to generate chances. He finally scored a pair of goals in the pre-season finale – fittingly against his former Edmonton Oilers teammates. One goal came off the rush, the other was a deflection off his stick in front of the net. His goals against Edmonton were his first, in any game involving NHL players, in 366 days.
The underlying numbers suggest that Rieder’s good fortune should extend into the regular season. Since the last time he scored a regular season goal, he’s registered 94 shots and 138 individual Corsi events. He leds the NHL in shots by players with zero goals in 2018-19, 27 more than the next player. His on-ice shooting percentage was 3.21%, lowest of any regular player in the league.
He was generating chances. He was generating shots. He was hitting the net on a large proportion of his shot attempts. He just wasn’t getting pucks past the goaltender. His puck luck was disasterously bad on the offensive side of things. His luck is bound to bounce back, but it remains to be seen how much it will bounce back.